Since bursting onto the WWE scene at Survivor Series, the trio of Dean Ambrose, Seth Rollins and Roman Reigns, known as The Shield, has taken out many of the company's top stars. They will set their sights on a new target at TLC, however, in the form of John Cena.
There is plenty of speculation regarding The Shield's true motives, and while they were quite present on Monday's edition of Raw, we didn't really get any new answers. The Shield attacked Team Hell No, just as they did the previous week, they took out Randy Orton, they jumped The Miz and they dealt with Ryback yet again.
Their initial appearance at Survivor Series involved them eliminating Ryback by powerbombing him through an announce table. They did the same exact thing the following night, so the prevailing thought was that The Shield was working with CM Punk, Paul Heyman or both. Most of their actions have benefited Punk thus far, including what they did on Monday.
Punk was in the middle of a lie-detector test that was aimed at revealing the truth about his involvement with The Shield. When it came time for Punk to answer that question, The Shield beat up The Miz and crashed the entire scene. Ryback ultimately chased them off and stood tall over Punk, but many questions remain unanswered.
According to WWE.com, Punk is undergoing emergency knee surgery, so his status for TLC is obviously uncertain. Provided it is simply a routine procedure meant to clean up some cartilage in his knee, as I suspect it to be, he should be fine to wrestle Ryback in the main event at TLC. That would also seem to be the obvious match for The Shield to interfere in.
The WWE doesn't necessarily like to do the obvious thing, however, and I believe that will result in The Shield taking out Cena instead. The Shield hasn't gone after Cena yet, including at Survivor Series when they invaded the triple-threat match, but he is probably very much in their plans.
While The Shield has definitely been helpful to Punk, it hasn't exclusively operated in a manner that is advantageous to him. Beating down Team Hell No and Orton on Raw had nothing to do with Punk, and it actually backed up their claim that they are more interested in being a shield against injustice than assisting an individual such as Punk.
There are a lot of unjust things happening in the WWE right now, but perhaps the greatest of them all is the fact that Dolph Ziggler has to defend his Money in the Bank contract against Cena in a ladder match at TLC. Raw managing supervisor Vickie Guerrero intended to make it a no disqualification match, but Vince McMahon forced her to change the stipulation.
This marks the second time since grabbing the briefcase that Ziggler has had to defend it, as he defeated Chris Jericho with the contract on the line the night after SummerSlam. In that instance, Jericho had to leave WWE due to the loss. Cena doesn't have to put anything on the line at TLC, however, so the match can definitely be viewed as unjust.
It was subtle, but when McMahon was leading Vickie toward announcing that match, she told McMahon that some people would think that such a stipulation is unfair. That could have meant anything, but Ambrose, Rollins and Reigns are some people who aren't willing to stand for unfair practices. Cena is the poster boy for unfair treatment, and The Shield will want to make a statement.
The Shield's involvement in the match makes sense for several other reasons as well. The odds are in Ziggler's favor in terms of winning the match since it's unlikely that Cena will be given the Money in the Bank contract. Ziggler won't win cleanly, though, so he'll need some outside help, and The Shield would be the perfect way to make that happen.
Also, it would open up a more surprising ending to the Punk vs. Ryback match. Rather than The Shield attacking Ryback yet again, perhaps Brock Lesnar can finally make his return. Fans have been waiting for it to happen for quite some time, and TLC would be the perfect venue, as it can reintroduce Lesnar for the road to WrestleMania and possibly set up a feud between he and Ryback.
The only possible thing that could prevent this from happening is A.J. turning on Cena in favor of Ziggler. It seems like the Cena and A.J. storyline is trending in that direction, but it would probably be too much to have her turn and have The Shield interfere in the same match.
There is still some steam remaining when it comes to Cena and A.J., though, so perhaps that relationship will implode at a later event such as Elimination Chamber. I still would like to see it happen, but the pieces are in place for The Shield to target Cena at TLC and it needs to occur.
Most still believe that The Shield is working with Punk and Heyman, but costing Cena a match at TLC would add even more depth and uncertainty to the storyline. Every heel believes that the way Cena is treated is unjust, and The Shield figures to take action.